What Research Is Being Done On Breast Cancer Is It Worthwhile To Participate In A Breast Cancer Clinical Trial
Without research and clinical trials, there would be no progress in our treatment of cancers.
Research can take many forms, including research directly on cancer cells or using animals.
Research that a patient can be involved in is referred to as a clinical trial. In clinical trials, different treatment regimens are compared for side effects and outcomes, including long-term survival. Clinical trials are designed to find out whether new approaches are safe and effective.
Whether one should participate in a clinical trial is a personal decision and should be based upon a full understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the trial. One should discuss the trial with a health care team and ask how this trial might be different from the treatment one would usually receive.
Someone should never be forced to participate in a clinical trial or be involved in a trial without full understanding of the trial and a written and signed consent.
For ductal carcinoma in situ, treatment usually consists of one the following:
Removal of the tumor and a large amount of surrounding normal tissue with or without radiation therapy
Some women with ductal carcinoma in situ are also given hormone-blocking drugs as part of their treatment.
For lobular carcinoma in situ, treatment includes the following:
How Breast Cancer Spreads
Breast cancer can spread to other regions of the body in a few primary ways:
When breast cancer spreads to another organ it is still breast cancer. For example, if breast cancer were to spread to the lungs it would not be called lung cancer. Instead, we’d refer to it as breast cancer spread to the lungs or breast cancer with lung metastases. If you were to look at the cancer cells in the lungs under the microscope they would be cancerous breast cells, not cancerous lung cells.
Cancers that have spread to other tissues may be different than the original tumor, and this is another area of confusion. Cancers aren’t just a clone of abnormal cells that propagate mindlessly. Rather, they are continually changing and developing new mutations. For this reason, a tumor that was estrogen receptor positive when found in the breast may now be estrogen receptor negative. HER2 status may change as well. This also explains why metastatic tumors are sometimes more aggressive than the original tumor.
What Is A Primary Tumor
The primary tumor refers to the original breast tumor. So, any metastases are either secondary tumors, or simply metastatic breast cancer.
Note, when breast cancer spreads to the bones, it is not bone cancer, it is metastatic breast cancer in the bones.
Metastatic describes a breast cancer that has already spread to distant areas and organs of the body. Metastatic cancer is the most advanced stage of breast cancer. Furthermore, the most common sites for breast cancer to metastasize to are the:-
Once breast cancer is at this most advanced metastatic stage, the odds of completely curing the breast cancer are quite low. .
The treatment of metastatic breast cancer, after a reasonable effort, will often focus on the quality of life and relieving symptoms rather than a cure.
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Spread Through The Bloodstream
Cancer cells can go into small blood vessels and then get into the bloodstream. They are called circulating tumour cells .
Researchers are looking at using circulating tumour cells to diagnose cancer instead of a tissue sample . And at whether they can test circulating cancer cells to predict which treatments will work better. They are also looking to detect circulating tumour DNA to help diagnose cancer and monitor treatment.
The circulating blood sweeps the cancer cells along until they get stuck somewhere. Often they get stuck in a very small blood vessel such as a capillary.
Then the cancer cell must move through the wall of the capillary and into the tissue of the organ close by. The cell can multiply to form a new tumour if:
- the conditions are right for it to grow
- it has the nutrients that it needs.
This is quite a complicated process and most cancer cells don’t survive it. Of the many thousands of cancer cells that reach the bloodstream, only a few survive to form a secondary cancer.
The white blood cells in our immune system find and kill some cancer cells. Others cancer cells might die because they get battered around by the fast flowing blood.
Cancer cells in the circulation may try to stick to platelets to form clumps to give themselves some protection. Platelets are blood cells that help the blood to clot. This could also help the cancer cells to move into the surrounding tissues.
Are There Herbal Products That Can Cure Cancer
No. Although some studies suggest that alternative or complementary therapies, including some herbs, may help patients cope with the side effects of cancer treatment, no herbal products have been shown to be effective for treating cancer. In fact, some herbal products may be harmful when taken during chemotherapy or radiation therapy because they may interfere with how these treatments work. Cancer patients should talk with their doctor about any complementary and alternative medicine productsincluding vitamins and herbal supplementsthey may be using. For more information, see Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
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Surgery For Breast Cancer
An operation to remove the cancer, surrounding breast tissue and often, the nearby lymph nodes, is usually the preferred first treatment.
Surgery options include:
- Breast-conserving surgery a small operation removes the cancer and some of the surrounding tissue, and usually some lymph nodes, leaving the bulk of the breast intact.
- Mastectomy the entire breast is removed, along with lymph nodes from the armpit. Extra cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy is often unnecessary.
- Breast reconstruction surgery women who have a mastectomy may choose to have reconstruction surgery . Options include silicone gel or saline-filled implants, or the use of your own muscle and skin to create a breast-like shape. If you dont choose reconstruction, you may use a breast form or prostheses. These are pads that are worn inside your bra. They help to restore balance and are designed to look like a normal breast under clothes.
All surgery has some risks. Possible side effects of breast surgery include infection, bleeding, blood clots in the leg , nerve damage and swelling of the arm. These side effects are not common, but you need to understand the risks.
Identification Of Human Papilloma Viruses In Breast Cancer
HPV DNA is circular, double stranded and is surrounded by a protein capsid coat. A persistent infection, of high risk HPVs, can increase the risk of cancer by using oncogenes E6 and E7 which inactivate p53 and pRB.
Since the first identification of HPVs in breast cancers, high risk for cancer HPVs have been identified in breast cancer in many countries . HPV identification in breast cancer tissues has been found in the following countries: Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Greece, India, Italy, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Morocco, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Venezuela.
This identification has been by several different methods including standard polymerase chain reaction technology , in situ PCR, in situ hybridisation, immunohistochemistry and massive parallel sequencing . The prevalence of high risk HPVs in breast cancers substantially varies between studies . High risk for cancer HPV type 16 and 18 dominate in Western women . In addition to HPV types 16 and 18, HPV types 33, 52 and 58 are common in Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Qatari women . These HPV types need qualification. This is because in some studies the PCR primers were specific for particular HPV types and not a review of all HPV types that may have been present in cancer samples. In the studies in which high risk HPVs were identified no correlations have been demonstrated between breast cancer grade, survival, or steroid receptor expression.
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Will Eating Sugar Make My Cancer Worse
No. Although research has shown that cancer cells consume more sugar than normal cells, no studies have shown that eating sugar will make your cancer worse or that, if you stop eating sugar, your cancer will shrink or disappear. However, a high-sugar diet may contribute to excess weight gain, and obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing several types of cancer. For more information, see the NCI fact sheet on Obesity and Cancer.
Risks And Causes Of Breast Cancer
The exact cause of breast cancer is unknown, but factors that seem to increase risk include:
- gender being a woman
- getting older women over 50 years of age are invited to take part in yearly mammograms to screen for breast cancer
- heredity having several close family members who have had breast cancer
- previous history of breast cancer women who have had breast cancer have a greater risk of developing it again
- certain breast diseases some types of breast disease that are found through mammograms indicate an increased risk.
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How Does Spreading Happen
There are several ways cancer can spread in the body.
- Direct invasion happens when the tumor has spread to a nearby organ in the body. The cancer cells take root and begin to grow in this new area.
- Lymphangitic spread occurs when cancer travels through the lymphatic system. Breast cancer often involves the nearby lymph nodes, so the cancer can enter the lymph circulatory system and take hold in different parts of the body.
- Hematogenous spread moves in much the same way as lymphangitic spread but through the blood vessels. The cancer cells travel through the body and take root in remote areas and organs.
When cancer starts in the breast tissue, it may often spread to the lymph nodes before affecting other parts of the body. Breast cancer most commonly spreads to the:
The type of test you end up having will depend on your medical history and symptoms. For example, if you or your doctor suspects the cancer may have spread to your abdomen, you may have an ultrasound.
CT and MRI scans can help your doctor visualize various parts of the body all at once. A PET scan can be helpful if your doctor thinks the cancer may have spread but isnt sure where.
All of these tests are relatively noninvasive, and they shouldnt require a hospital stay. You may be given special instructions before your test.
If you have a CT scan, for instance, you may need to drink an oral contrast agent to help outline different features inside your body.
How Do Breast Cancers Spread
Cancer cells break away from the primary tumor, entering the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. As large vessels narrow, cancer cells stop traveling and lodge themselves in a new area. Then they begin dividing and moving into surrounding tissue. The cancer cells take over the new area, crowding out healthy cells and forming a new tumor. Cancer cells are insidious because the new tumor can set up its own network of blood vessels to obtain nutrients for growth and further spread.
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Other Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Other factors that seem to increase risk include:
- not having children or having children after the age of 30
- early age at first period
- later age of natural menopause
- alcohol intake
- obesity or gaining a lot of weight after menopause
- using the contraceptive pill the risk is higher while taking the pill and for about ten years after stopping use
- using hormone replacement therapy also known as hormone therapy the risk increases the longer you take it, but disappears within about two years of stopping use.
Having some of these risk factors does not mean that you will get breast cancer. Most women with breast cancer have no known risk factors, aside from getting older. More research needs to be done before we can be definite about risk factors.
In men, the main risk factor is abnormal enlargement of the breasts due to drug, chemical or hormone treatments. Men with Klinefelters syndrome can also be at risk. A mans risk increases where there is a family history of male breast cancer or a strong family history of breast cancer.
Stage Iv Breast Cancers May Be Recurrences Following Initial Treatment
Up to 5% of initial breast cancer diagnoses are of the most advanced or metastatic stage. However, this number has significantly reduced with the implementation of widespread breast cancer screening programs.
Metastatic breast cancer can appear to be a rapid deterioration of a disease that has been present for some time undetected.
But metastatic breast cancer can also be the result of a recurrence of breast cancer after successful initial treatment. Sometimes the terms local and regional recurrence indicate a return of breast cancer to the original tumor site or elsewhere in the breast or contralateral breast.
If the cancer returns in other areas of the body it is a distant metastasis or distant recurrence.
For more detail on Stage IV survival rates, recurrence rates and treatment please see our new post HERE.
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If No One In My Family Has Had Cancer Does That Mean Im Risk
No. Based on the most recent data, about 38 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lives. Most cancers are caused by genetic changes that occur throughout a persons lifetime as a natural result of aging and exposure to environmental factors, such as tobacco smoke and radiation. Other factors, such as what kind of food you eat, how much you eat, and whether you exercise, may also influence your risk of developing cancer. For more information, see Cancer Causes and Risk Factors.
How Fast Can Breast Cancer Spread
Metastasis occurs when breast cancer cells begin to grow in another body part.
It is hard to say exactly how quickly breast cancer can grow, including the timeframe, as the disease affects each person differently.
Cancer occurs due to mutations in human cells. Mutations do not follow normal, predictable patterns of cell division, so it is difficult to predict the progression.
Tumors appear when damaged cells replicate over and over to form a clump of abnormal cells. Breast cancer cells can break off and move through the lymph or blood vessels to other areas of the body.
If breast cancer cells begin to grow in another body part, this is called metastasis. Breast cancer is most likely to metastasize to the lymph nodes, lungs, and bones.
Regardless of the location of the new tumor, doctors still consider it to be breast cancer.
Breast cancer growth and its chances of spreading depend on the following:
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Why It Spreads And Recurs
You may be wondering why breast cancer cells travel at all. Or, why normal cells don’t spread around our bodies. Cancer cells differ from normal cells in many ways. One of these is that normal cells have what is known as “adhesion molecules.” These adhesion molecules act like glue and keep cells where they belong in a particular part of the body.
Normal cells also have “boundaries” or ways in which cells communicate with each other. This is like one country saying to another “you don’t belong here.” Cancer cells, in contrast, don’t respect these cellular communications, essentially ignoring the “fences” between different tissues.
Yet another confusing topic when talking about breast cancer spread is why it can happen years or even decades later. We know that, especially with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers, cancer can seemingly disappear only to recur many years after the original tumor. Nobody is certain exactly how this happens, but there are theories about recurrence that suggest that some breast cancer cells are hardier than others and that these cancer “stem cells” are able to lie dormant even through treatment.
What Is Carcinoma In Situ
Some people are diagnosed when the cancerous cells are still totally within a duct or lobule. These are called carcinoma in situ , as no cancer cells have grown out from their original site.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer and about 1 in 5 new breast cancer cases will be DCIS. A carcinoma in situ is easier to treat and has a better outlook than an invasive cancer.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ results in abnormal cells in the milk producing glands of the breasts. These cells rarely spread outside of the lobules to other parts of the breast or body.
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Treatment For Breast Cancer
Treatment options for breast cancer include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. Usually, more than one is used. Treatment for breast cancer in men is similar to the treatment for breast cancer in women.
Treatment depends on several factors, including:
- whether you have had your menopause
- the type of breast cancer you have
- the size of your breast tumour in relation to your breast
- the stage of your breast cancer
- the grade of your cancer cells
- the results of tests on your cancer cells
- your age, general health and personal preferences.
Stage Ii Breast Cancer
There are basically four sub-categories of breast cancer within the category of stage II. Breast tumors in the Stage II classification are:
- A breast tumor that is 2cm in diameter or less. BUT the cancer cells have already spread to the lymph nodes.
- OR a breast tumor that is larger than 5 cm but has not yet spread to the lymph nodes.
- OR breast tumors in between 2 cm and 5 cm in diameter -whether there is evidence of spread to the lymph nodes or not.
There are actually quite a number of specific subcategories and letters and numbers to indicate a more precise description of the breast cancer at Stage II. .
In summary, stage II breast cancer is of intermediate size and threatening to spread. Without a doubt, staging for stage II breast cancers requires a thorough investigation of potential metastases.
Survival Rates for Stage II Breast Cancer
The average survival rate for stage II breast cancers is about 93% after five years and about 75% after 10 years. The rate of local recurrence is about 16% for stage II breast tumors. Furthermore, only about 16% of stage II breast cancers either have or will develop lymph node metastasis.
A baseline bone scan is unlikely to detect bone metastasis with stage 2 tumors, but they are usually necessary just to be sure.
Treatment for Stage II Breast Cancer
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